Lifeguard in the States? Taewkwondo fighter? Sure, but also a successful influencer. Claudia Marin’s story deserves a good readcodrutnaw /
There are many interesting stories which we enjoy discovering about Romanian influencers. This, however, is the first time that we get to talk to a former competitive athlete who practiced Taekwondo and was a lifeguard in the States. Live and learn, as they say, and we are happy to do this.
Irina Claudia Marin is an influencer who delivers quality content both on YouTube and Instagram. And by quality we mean authenticity and sincerity. Irina has recently contributed to campaigns for Fashion House, and Esteto. And the conclusions she draws from her work are as natural as her posts:
My goal isn’t for my stuff to create a perfect world, but instead something natural, real, even if it is just a picture of me next to my car. Or a picture of a few items from my closet — there are 200 other photos beside it which have not been published.
The new 2Performant marketplace is intended for influencers and brands, and especially for hearty collaborations. We asked Irina about some of the ingredients necessary for a successful influencer campaign. We will reveal just one here, and for the rest we invite you to read the interview below. We promise it’ll be worth it 🙂
Ideally, the brand should choose the right influencer for the campaign they are running. It is also the influencer’s responsibility to work only with companies whose mission resonates with his or her audience.
(pentru varianta in limba romana a acestui material, click aici).
A background as athlete-influencer
I have been a competitive athlete for almost half my life. I practiced Taekwondo W.T.F. for 10 years. I went to high school at Colegiul Național Pedagogic “Constantin Brătescu” in Constanța, in the bilingual English-language Social Sciences department, and subsequently I got my BA in Journalism and Communications from Ovidius University.
I never interacted too much with the job market in Romania, since already in high school I was starting to earn small amounts from my online activity. However, I did go to the US with the Work and Travel student program on two consecutive summers, where I had various jobs ranging from full-time lifeguard to kitchen helper and part-time pool attendant.
In my free time I like to be a “couch potato” and watch TV series or movies, and read. When I do decide to go out and see the light of day I go to the gym, I take a walk on the beach or go out with friends. When I get tired of the same landscapes and the same routines, I make reservations for a little vacation. I’m a “dog person,” so no cats for me. I keep my little dog at my parents’ house, because I’ve been away so much over the last few years.
I think my current job was the result of social anxiety combined with the pleasure of talking and sharing my opinions, all without the pressure of face-to-face conversations. I started with YouTube videos, crossed over into Facebook posts, and then Instagram. I think it was my attitude, with I had going in and which I still have, that allowed my activity to turn from a hobby into a job.
In the beginning it was like a game, I would post things whenever I had time and didn’t take it too seriously, but now I am trying to generate content that is as professional as possible, to be disciplined and to post at least once a week to YouTube and at least 4-5 times to Instagram and Facebook, to work with brands and to constantly improve my materials for every photo, video, and campaign that I do, while also maintaining the natural style to which my followers are accustomed.
I think of my followers as a sea of persons with which I have something in common, potential friends with whom I would instantly click in real life. Open-minded, curious, natural people who resonate with the life I portray, which is far from perfect, and very close to that of a normal young adult.
“Influencer” is such a controversial term in the digital world, something I noticed both from my online as well as from my academic activity, when I did my BA thesis on the topic of influencers in Romania.
One aspect not always taken into account is the fact that each of us can influence, and is influenced in day-to-day life, and this is an important factor in the decisions we make based on suggestions we receive. This can be the result of a breakfast cereal commercial, or of a close friend telling you they went to Istanbul and really loved the food and the culture there.
One example relevant to my area would be when a beauty influencer does a video review of a line of face powder, talking about what she likes or dislikes about it. It is still at the viewer’s latitude whether she wants to give the product a chance or not. I realized only very late that I qualified as an influencer, and only after working with various brands which kept calling me an influencer in conversations and in briefs (fun fact: I didn’t even have a concrete idea of what that meantJ )
I feel I have the option to communicate differently depending on the type of content I produce. In the photos I post on Instagram I go for something slightly more artistic, but still as real and as natural as possible. When I make a YouTube video, it’s just me talking about a million different things, and I believe I can create a different type of connection to my audience through the video material. I can observe my gestures, my body language, and my way of being. I don’t have a specific preference, I like both equally, even though a video takes more time to do than a photo.
Your passion for the online world
It came as the result of the hours I was spending on YouTube watching girls from Romania and from abroad. I kept thinking it was a wonderful world to be in, and that it is probably impossible to imagine having so many people close, following and supporting you. Since anxiety prevented me from expressing many things in my real life, I started using the online as an outlet. I did not share my activity with my classmates, or with certain members of my family, etc., for about a year and a half, until I got invited to a show on Neptun Tv, which is when it all came out.
The content which I produce can be either strictly a personal creation from my own imagination or inspired by various influencers whom I follow, passed through the Irina filter in order to become exactly the type of material that represents me.
It is a challenge to accept that you can’t please everyone and that it is not your fault that not everyone appreciates your work. It is hard to understand that not everyone follows the principle “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything,” and the chance to offend or belittle you is their way of feeling better about themselves, even if a malicious comment can cancel out 10 nice ones and can ruin your day or affect your motivation and inspiration.
The nicest moments are when I receive messages from followers telling me that they were inspired by me, when I get recognized in public places or when someone asks me for a picture, so that I get a chance to personally meet the people behind the follower and view numbers.
It is overwhelming to have the chance to work with famous brands which I couldn’t even afford as a teenager, but which I hoped I would get to have one day. It is an amazing feeling to have my voice heard, to feel that my opinions matter, and that there are people who think alike and who support me.
Regarding recent campaigns
When I see a campaign posted, or when I receive an offer for a campaign, I quickly scan the brief and ask myself the following questions: “is this product or service something relevant for my audience?”, “does promoting it represent who I am?”.
If the answer to both questions is “yes,” there is still another important aspect to consider. I have to feel that the brand offers me the freedom to come up with material that would be pleasing to my audience, and which is not forced. I don’t want to shove the things I promote “down my followers’ throats,” as it were.
Your contribution to these campaigns
Generally, my posts are very casual, most of the time the environment where they happen is my natural habitat (aka my room) or areas around my house. Most of the time, when I read a brief, I immediately have at least one idea for the promotional content.
My goal isn’t for my stuff to create a perfect world, but instead something natural, real, even if it is just a picture of me next to my car, or a picture of a few items from my closet — there are 200 other photos beside it which have not been publicly promoted.
My process is as follows: I read the brief, I talk to the brand, I establish the details, I take the 200 photos, I choose two or three of the best, which I edit using a color preset to ensure my Instagram feed has the same tones, or, if I am posting to Facebook, I just make the colors more vibrant and intense.
I find the picture I like and suits my vibe best, then I create a description, the tags, and hashtags. Usually, the description is the last step. I look at the photo and the text just comes naturally. I check that everything is accurate and in accordance with the brand requirements and then I publish the post.
Sometimes brands ask to see a draft of the materials before they are posted, which is not an impediment. I get that their aim is to broadcast their campaign message as accurately as possible. In these cases, I simply create the materials in advance and send them to the company before publishing them.
It has been a pleasure to work on the campaigns I have worked on up until this moment, as well as with the brands behind them. I greatly appreciated the fact of being allowed to be myself, and also the flexibility of certain companies when it comes to various aspects of a campaign.
Since I am the one who knows my community best, and since I want to create materials which are as attractive as possible for it, while also looking out for the brands’ best interest, there are situations when they come to me with certain proposals which affect somewhat the requirements of the campaigns, and I was really happy to see that the attitude is one of openness, that my point of view is heard and followed.
It is already a well known fact that the influencer marketing area has been gaining ground over traditional marketing, maybe not so much in Romania, comparative to what is happening abroad, but we are getting close. Most likely, companies that did not take this area seriously or did not trust it until now will also start to run influencer marketing strategies.
I think that for every campaign and for every product and service there is a right influencer. It is likely that, in the future, companies will earmark bigger budgets for influencer marketing and less for TV commercials or magazine ads.
What is a good campaign?
There are several key ingredients which, from my point of view, make up the recipe for a successful campaign. First of all, ideally the brand has chosen the right influencer for the campaign they are running. It is also the influencer’s responsibility to work only with companies whose mission resonates with his or her audience.
Promoting just anything, even if it is not remotely within or close to the influencer’s niche, leads to loss of credibility with the followers. Also, it is ideal to have good communication, and for both sides to be flexible, to discuss all aspects of the campaign, and to negotiate if necessary.
Also, probably the most important thing is to have mutual respect. Brands have to be open to the influencer’s ideas, to allow him or her to express themselves as naturally as possible and to let their personality come across in their posts, rather than pushing them to be a little robot who will deliver just any message verbatim.
On the other hand, the influencer needs to respect and incorporate what the brand is aiming for, whether it be exposure for the company or engagement in the campaign they are running. It is the influencer’s duty to create the appropriate materials to optimize the brand’s results, and also to arouse the audience’s interest in the products or services promoted. All these things will result in postings which will make followers stop scrolling and really look and read.
Influencers from Romania that I like to follow are Stefana Teodoroiu, Irina from therawscientist, and Roxana and Andrei from prinlume. For various reasons I’m more attracted to influencers from abroad, but I only have three of them: Victoria (inthefrowi), Taylor R and Allegra Shaw always inspire me.
– Instagram will probably be the main promotion platform, with better odds of success than Facebook.
– The number of influencers will continue to grow and this will lead brands to work both with micro- and with macro-influencers, depending on the market area where they intend to target potential buyers.
The new marketplace on 2Performant is dedicated to influencers and the ways they can help businesses grow. The new section of the platform allows brands to set up campaigns in a transparent and simple manner. For more information have a look at the Influencer section on our website